EMPLOYMENT

“The reward of working with youth in Project LIFE is seeing them mold themselves into the adults they will become.”

GEORGE MACK, Project LIFE

Employment

A job provides you the income to pay for housing, food, medical care and other necessities of life. Just as important, work can help youth in foster care to develop confidence and a sense of responsibility, both of which help them succeed and become productive members of their communities.

Understanding your skills, abilities, and interests and how these align with possible career paths is the first step in helping you find employment. You will be happier and likely to stay at a job that satisfies you and helps you reach your personal goals. Talk to them about what they want in a job, help them set priorities and then discuss what they need to do in order to achieve their goals.

What do you like to do? What are you good at?

IF YOU ENJOY:

design, color, music, performance, singing

YOU MIGHT LIKE TO BE:

  • Artist
  • Photographer
  • Musician
  • Decorator
  • Cartoonist
  • Actor
  • Graphic Designer
  • Interior Designer

IF YOU ENJOY:

accuracy, detail, working with numbers

YOU MIGHT LIKE TO BE:

  • Cashier
  • Hospitality Manger
  • Computer Programmer
  • Event Planner
  • Doctor
  • Accountant

IF YOU ENJOY:

reading, writing, languages

YOU MIGHT LIKE TO BE:

  • Reporter
  • Teacher
  • Editor
  • Screenwriter
  • News Broadcaster
  • Proofreader
  • Author

IF YOU ENJOY:

tools, machines, how things work

YOU MIGHT LIKE TO BE:

  • Mechanic
  • Locksmith
  • Pilot
  • Plumber
  • Engineer
  • Carpenter
  • Industrial Designer

IF YOU ENJOY:

plants, animals, trees, sports, outdoors

YOU MIGHT LIKE TO BE:

  • Park Ranger
  • Gardener
  • Farmer
  • Biologist
  • Veterinarian
  • Landscaper
  • Geologist

IF YOU ENJOY:

meeting people, sharing ideas

YOU MIGHT LIKE TO BE:

  • Sales person
  • Politician
  • Lawyer
  • Travel agent
  • Counselor

What do I want my job to give me?

Find a job that offers what you are interested in. You probably have many interests. If so, you may have to choose which is most important. What do you want from a job?

  • Challenges
  • Change and improvement
  • Chance to meet and learn about different people
  • Honesty and having people trust me
  • Paying attention to very small details
  • Looking at the big picture
  • Independence, creativity and finding new ways to do things
  • Influencing others
  • Helping and caring for other people
  • Working with my hands
  • Building things

Card Game Tool helps youth in foster care figure out what is most important to them and helps them decide what they want to do when they age out of foster care.

Another useful tool to guide a conversation about getting a job is the Employment Skills Assessment worksheet, which helps youth understand the job-hunting skills they need to focus on in order to land a job.

Employers like to hire people who take charge of their careers. Can you give you examples of how you have worked as part of a team? How have you resolved conflicts? Solved problems? Brought about positive change? Are you good at following directions? You can use the Casey Skills Worksheet for exercises that bring to life how different qualities are expressed in the workplace.

None of the tools or other factors discussed should be construed as defining or limiting the youth’s career options. These are guides to consider. It may be that a youth is so interested in a particular career that he or she can overcome what may seem like obstacles to success.

Your personal values, such as your religious views, your belief in making the world a better place, your desire for achievement or independence are important. For example, if you believe people deserve a second chance in life, maybe you’d like a job helping others get their lives back on track.

Social media has become the most used method of communication among youths. However, when it comes to job hunting, it is important to keep in mind that potential employers can find your social media profiles. Be mindful of what you post and how you present yourself. Often, privacy settings do not block content as well as you might want them to. Even if your profiles are private, some pages can still show up and prevent you from getting or keeping a job.

Getting a foot in the door

Sometimes volunteering or an internship is the best way to get youth where they want to go. Volunteering gives them the chance to show their skills and learn more about different jobs. By volunteering, a youth in foster care can also gain confidence, meet people who are concerned about others and feel useful. An internship provides the similar benefits in a professional, more formal workplace. Apprenticeships are another avenue to explore. They offer on-the-job training in highly needed skills and can lead to very good careers.

An internship is a temporary job students take to gain knowledge and skills in a particular field. Internships are a way to try out your interests and discover whether a job suits you. Through hard work and proving your abilities day to day, you may be able to turn an internship into a job offer.

The Virginia Registered Apprenticeship is a great opportunity to receive training and experience in many competitive jobs. It offers on-the-job training and theoretical classroom instruction. Related instruction may be provided through a local community college, a vocational or technical center, electronically or at the place of employment. A registered apprentice completes a minimum of 2,000 hours of supervised on-the-job training and a minimum of 144 hours of related classroom instruction for each year of the apprenticeship.

Things you enjoy doing now could turn into a career. So if you have an opportunity to try something out by volunteering, working part-time, or participating in an internship, take advantage of it. You won’t know whether you like something until you try it.

Every job counts! Any job — volunteer, school aide, or flipping burgers — shows employers that you have ambition and want to be responsible. Come to work on time, treat others with respect, and do the job well so you can get a letter of recommendation from your boss.

JobCorps


JOB CORPS IS THE LARGEST FREE RESIDENTIAL EDUCATION

https://www.jobcorps.gov

Make a good impression when you go for an interview. Your appearance and demeanor affect a potential employer’s impression and willingness to hire you.

  • Dress well. You may not have to dress up to do the work but you do need to dress your best when you go for an interview.
  • Fill out paperwork carefully and so it can be read.
  • Turn your cellphone off. You need to pay attention and avoid interruptions.
  • Show that you really want the job. Be interested, sit up straight, and ask questions.
  • Show your enthusiasm! Tell them why you like this kind of work and why you can do it.
  • Say “Thank you!” and send the interviewer a thank-you email afterwards — spelled correctly.

More Life Skills to Explore

Interested in learning more? Check out our other life skill pages.

Education
Employment
Getting Around
Health & Nutrition
Money Management